Love & Repair What You Already Have - Guest Post by Hilary Lewis

I live in Calgary Alberta. When I mention this fact to individuals not from Calgary one of three points of conversation typically come up 1) the mountains 2) the Stampede 3) but isn’t it cold there in the winter? My answers are typically 1) super beautiful, super awesome but not actually in Calgary. Still oh so nice 2) it’s okay, but Calgary is so much more and better than the stampede 3) yes, but that’s okay!

I’m not originally from Calgary, and although I’ve always experienced winter throughout my life, I haven’t always enjoyed it. It has only been within the past two years of living in this mountain(ish) metropolis that I actually understand it and love it. Nothing gives me more joy then bundling up in the winter head to toe in my warmest clothing and going for a walk. Habitually I dawn my grandma’s cream cable knit sweater, wool socks from Reykjavik, Iceland and my puffy winter parka that I’ve had for over 5 years. If you were a passing stranger, only my eyes and maybe my nose would be visible, but underneath all those layers I’m grinning ear to ear. The snow and cold have this dreamy way of absorbing all the sound in the city so that everything is quiet, crisp, and truly beautiful. However, that doesn’t mean that it isn’t cold outside and that I can’t last more than 30 minutes at -20°C while walking as fast as I can.

Needless to say, winter is a serious business for me, so this year I wanted to take my winter game to the next level. I currently have a Community brand parka from Aritzia which is made of hemp, and recycled materials. As I mentioned, I’ve had this coat for over 5 years and it's starting to show some wear & tear.

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This year my goal was to get a super-powered winter coat from MEC for temperatures of -30°C and have it last another 5 winters, so I did some preliminary research online and found the top contenders. I wanted a coat that was warm, ethical, and semi-fit me. I’m 5’2 and very petite, finding a winter coat that doesn’t look like I’m going outside in sleeping bag is a challenge.

When I left MEC, I purchased no winter coat, had an anxiety attack and learned some valuable lessons about retail and myself.

I’ve learned that the price range for a -20°C weather vs. -30°C weather coat is very, very different; At least $300 worth of difference, but I guess you are paying for the warmth of two coats in one?

Unfortunately, all the coats I really liked online were around the $550-$600 range; yikes bikes. Some may shake their heads at me and say, “it’s only $600”, but to me that price makes my armpits dampen, and I begin to question my decision-making skills.

Regardless, of the price, though I was committed to getting my super powdered winter coat, and viewed it as a 5-year investment, so this I could semi rationalize.

I also learned that winter coat shopping at MEC is competitive. I was followed by the same shopper trying to take the last XS from me, as I carried it around, not sure if I was going to buy it.  At the end of the day, all of the coats didn’t fit how I would have liked for the price, and it was just too much pressure. So I passed on that last XS coat to the woman who desperately needed it more than me, and left empty-handed.

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In the end I decided that I would be happier overall with my faithful Community brand winter coat for one more season. I had gotten too caught up in my want for something that wasn’t really out there or available to me. So instead, I grabbed a sewing kit from the dollar store and fixed my winter coat.

All in all, I feel like I took a step away from consumerism, made a continuous choice to only invest in something that has personal value for me, and made a radical decision to repair instead of replace. If Calgary drops below -20°C I may be slightly colder than I like, but then I’ll just put on another layer and still be extra cozy.